Sources tell The Chronicle that influential members of the Seneca Nation of Indians are encouraging former President Robert Odawi Porter, a Harvard educated attorney, to challenge Rep. Brian Higgins in the Democratic Party primary.
Higgins’ support inside the district has been waning in recent years. The 26th congressional district is heavily Democrat-enrolled, encompassing the City of Buffalo, its first-ring suburbs, and the City of Niagara Falls.
Porter is moderate in style and is a centrist in his policy approach. His supporters postulate that he could be an influential ambassador for the Seneca Nation in the Congress, perhaps even reversing the 2009 federal PACT Act that targeted the Seneca Nation’s sovereign tobacco trade with unnecessary trade sanctions pushed at the time by Phillip Morris.
It’s widely thought that Porter would receive the political support of the Seneca Nation and its gaming corporation, both of which are exempt from individual campaign finance limits. Operatives postulate that unseating Higgins could cost as little as a few hundred thousand dollars, citing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes‘ upset victory over longtime incumbent Joe Crowley with her mere $120,000 budget.
It’s thought that Porter, a professor at Syracuse University Law School, could fundraise more than $5 million from Tribal enterprises across the country.
Buffalo businessman Eddie Egriu has already announced that he plans to challenge Higgins in the Democratic Party primary. Egriu is popular among the left flank of the party.